Foundation for Justice
Awarded to the attorney who has devoted expertise and time to changing the justice system to promote access and opportunity for those most vulnerable.
Nominations are due March 1st and are to include the individual's name; firm if applicable; address & other contact information; the award for which they are being nominated and contact information of the nominators; a summary of their characteristics, experiences, and service that qualifies them for the award; and support letters from others may be included. The nomination packets should be sent to The Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, ATTN: Kevin S. Ruegg, 4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 210, Phoenix, AZ 85016 or fax to 602-271-4930.
Awards Acknowledged in conjunction with the Foundation participation in the annual Arizona State Bar Convention.
Ellen S. Katz
Since 1980, when Ellen Katz received her law degree from Washington University, she has devoted her expertise and time to changing the justice system to promote access and opportunity for those most vulnerable. Since moving to Arizona, she has worked with a broad spectrum of legal advocacy organizations, including Southern Arizona Legal Aid, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the Civil Rights Division at the Arizona Attorney General′s Office. She has now devoted over nine years to public advocacy with the William E. Morris Institute for Justice, where she remains a resource for other legal aid providers as well as an impact litigator in her own right.
Through Ellen′s advocacy the system for those most vulnerable has advanced in numerous areas. Ellen′s representation of the poverty population is extensive.
In addition to her focus of ensuring our judicial system is always aware of the needs of those who cannot afford representation, Ellen′s representation of the public strengthens the justice system by giving large number of people access through her advocacy on their behalf.
Gary Restaino's entire professional career has been dedicated to public service. Gary began his career in 1997 as a legal aid attorney at Community Legal Services in Phoenix. Combining a brilliant legal mind and social conscience with being fluent in Spanish, Gary was uniquely qualified. He employed his skills and was able to progress his career to the Arizona Attorney's Office, and in 2003 he was promoted to Division Chief Counsel of the Criminal Division for the United States Attorney's Office. In addition to Gary's “day job,” he has generously provided his time on State Bar committees, and provided pro bono legal services to those most in need. “Gary does this because he believes in our legal system; but also he believes that our legal system should not be available only if you have enough money or power or influence.” Gary possesses an enduring commitment to justice and fairness that is unequaled.
Nominated by the Executive Directors of Community Legal Services, DNA People's Legal Services, and Southern Arizona Legal Aid, John Bouma's commitment to "justice for all" is demonstrated not only by his time and expertise devoted to helping ensure access to justice, but for his vision more than ten years ago which structured and designed the Arizona Equal Justice Foundation and Campaign. Although many shared his vision, it was John who gathered the founding firms and board members and guided them in achieving success as the first Arizona campaign "by lawyers for legal aid." Ten years later, he continues to work towards his vision being a reality. He takes active leadership in shaping the future of legal aid through the statewide campaign. To date, under Bouma's leadership, the Arizona Equal Justice Campaign has raised more than $4 million to provide legal aid to more than 40,000 of our state's most vulnerable residents. "When Henry David Thoreau said, 'It's not what you look at, it's what you see,' he could have been thinking ahead to the likes of John J. Bouma. John looked at a need, and took action. His vision has spanned a decade and continues to inspire."
Elvera Anselmo was a compassionate and tireless advocate for those in need. This past February, Anselmo passed away at the young age of 57. Her entire life was dedicated to fighting for economic and social justice for vulnerable persons.
For several years after graduating from Blackburn College with a degree in Education, Anselmo traveled and worked around the world with the United Nations. When she returned to the States she worked to protect women from violence and to provide housing to the homeless. She lobbied both Arizona and Illinois legislators on behalf of low income people, provided training and continuing legal education, and worked to protect senior citizens against fraud and abuse at the Attorney General's Office, Governor's Advisory Council on Aging and AARP. She was a courageous and dedicated fighter for equal justice for all, and will be missed by the justice community as a whole.
Mike Valder has a long history of fighting for justice. As a law clerk in the late 60s, Mike served as pro bono counsel for 19 community groups in the greater Philadelphia area. He also volunteered as criminal defense lawyer under the Criminal Justice Act, and represented a photographer assaulted by police and arrested during a Vietnam demonstration at the Watergate apartments. He then went on to develop curriculum for training public interest and legal service attorneys.
After moving to Arizona, he was instrumental in developing landmark litigation involving such issues as equitable funding for public schools in economically depressed school districts, adequate state funding for the care of seriously mental ill patients, and a variety of environmental justice issues.
After being involved with Phoenix Youth at Risk and Threshold Foundation, Mike and his wife Janet started the Arizona Social Change Fund. Before they closed the fund in 2008, they had granted over $400,000 in support of systemic social change projects by grassroots non-profit community organizations that address root causes of social, economic, and environmental injustice.
Mike continues to be President of the Arizona Advocacy Network and consults with clients and lawyers on a part-time basis.
Comm. Frederic Dardis has devoted his career to assuring that the courts are available to all who need them. Immediately after his swearing in, Comm. Dardis began work on many innovative pro bono initiatives that have since become permanent fixtures in our legal community. There initiatives link vital partners including the court, the law school, the VLP, and funders. The first of these initiatives, the Child Support Project, was launched in 2001. Through the project, volunteer attorneys supervise law students as they meet with unrepresented litigants prior to final divorce hearings in Superior Court. Comm. Dardis and the Family Law Bench volunteer their time to train law students for the Child Support Project. He then set his sights on probate court and in 2005 launched a Guardianship of Minor Project. Under the supervision of a volunteer attorney, students meet with unrepresented clients at their guardianship hearings and offered their recommendations to court as to whether the client should be awarded a guardianship. In addition to his tangible contributions in the fields of pro bono and access to the courts, Comm. Dardis also provides strength, wisdom, and support to the VLP staff on a daily basis. These immeasurable gifts are treasured assets and the secret to the program's success.
Keith Perkins started the Never Again Foundation in 2001 with the vision to "Never Again deny victims of crime civil justice; Never Again allow abusers to avoid financial accountability; and Never Again fail to send a strong message of prevention and deterrence to society." The Never Again Foundation provides free civil representation for women, children and senior citizens who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse in civil actions directly against their abusers. It is the first organization of its kind in the nation and services are free to the victims who receive 100% of the judgments collected. Their judgments now total over 170 million dollars.
Keith also knows the value of education and speaks regularly for the Arizona State Bar, Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education as well as the Attorney General's Office, Victim's Services. He also offers externship opportunities to law and paralegal students, where they can learn to utilize the power of the civil justice system.
As one of his clients once said "He makes one realize that there are attorneys who, when taking the oath, not only mean it, they actually live it. He is a fine example of what other should strive for."
Hon. Colin Campbell
Inaugural 2005 Award